I’m a glutton for punishment in many ways. Driving to and from school in the mornings and afternoons, I listen to Bill O’Reilly and Michael Reagan (the former president’s semi-retarded son) on the radio; Saturday nights I watch the weekend edition of Glenn Beck’s show on CNN Headline News (though last night I turned it off after about thirty seconds – I have my limits); and every Sunday morning at 11 I click on TBN and watch The Coral Ridge Hour, hosted by the most pompous, intellectually vapid bloviator in all the nation, D. James Kennedy. Why do I put myself through this? Why am I so maliciously self-loathing? What the fuck is wrong with me?
This ain’t about me, G. Coral Ridge always follows the same format: the first half is a sermon given by Kennedy at his massive Presbyterian church in Fort Lauderdale; the second, a pre-produced mini-documentary on some vital church-related topic. My favorite game to play during the first half (which has continued the last four months despite Kennedy being laid-up following a heart attack – they’ve been showing reruns, I guess) is “Count the black people in the choir”; my record is two. The most interesting shit is always in the second half, though. The Christian soldiers at Coral Ridge have shined the light on such imperatives as partial-birth abortion; the evils of the ACLU (”They want secular schools!!!”); our evangelical, gone-for-Jesus founding fathers; and, this morning, school vouchers.
School vouchers has been an election year issue since I was in middle school, and probably for way before that too and I just wasn’t aware of it. Proponents of vouchers claim that it’s only fair that they be allowed to reclaim some of the money they spend on taxes, which support public schools in their area, and use it to send their kids to a private school. There are also parents who home-school their kids who think they deserve a break in their taxes for similar reasons – why should they pay taxes to support public schools they don’t use? These folks seem to think government services are pay-as-you-go. You don’t pay state and local taxes so your kids can go to public school; you pay them along with the rest of us so everyone’s kids can go to public school.
Home-schooling has always troubled me. If you intend to have a career teaching public school (as I do), you’ll probably need a masters degree sooner or later. If you intend to teach your kids at home, you need to stay one lesson ahead. How I wish that was a joke, but Ashley used to work with a guy whose wife home-schooled their ever-expanding army of children doing exactly that. Their daughter, Ashley told me one day, was learning Greek. “Jason’s wife speaks Greek?” I asked, bracing myself to be, like, totally impressed. “No,” said Ashley, “she’s just going to keep two lessons ahead.”
The kid’s learning Greek. Are they planning on sending her to home-college, too? If not, how the fuck is the “education” she’s getting from Mom going to stack up against her fellow students, who spent the last twelve years being instructed by qualified teachers? I’m not saying public education is ideal or even all that good, but it beats the shit out of going to class every morning at the kitchen table. I love my Mom and I can’t possibly quantify what she has taught me in the last 27 years, but I’m glad she wasn’t my history or math teacher. Call me crazy, but I think the people who educate children ought to know and understand the subjects they’re teaching.
Plus most home-school kids that I encounter are self-important, spoiled little fuckbags who could benefit from having the shit knocked out of them every so often. It’s shocking what assholes children become when they don’t have to wake up at a certain time, get to school by the opening bell, go from class to class according to a schedule, socialize with people from different backgrounds, and learn all the little lessons that attending school teaches them which allow them (hopefully) to function in society and be decent people. Sometimes they become assholes no matter what you do, sure; but why give them any help in that regard? Even with all its shortcomings, public school is better for kids than home-school. The folks at Coral Ridge don’t think so; they’re still offended that their poor innocent babes are being sent to those godless public schools and being exposed to the evils of history and science.